Ventura Sandwich Company
2700 Loma Vista Road
$6.25 – $14.99
After a long morning of horrific closeouts and the occasional successful barrel escape at the local jetty, I was left soggy, beaten and starving on the sand. A long day of editing beckoned but, first, it was time to crush a monster sandwich (or two) before elbowing up to the desk for 10 hours.
Tucked into the hospital zone along Loma Vista Road in Ventura, perpendicular to the street and next to the 99 Cents Only store, Ventura Sandwich Company (VSC) has drawn a line with the midtown lunchtime crowd. A quick jump off the 101 and I soon sat back to digest the colored wall menu.
The two-man crew was just finishing up their opening duties when I entered. The kitchen area behind the cashier counter was immaculately clean, the deli slicer back there sparkling silver. Dated surf movies played in rotation on the TV screen above the small but airy seating area with a few boards and ocean-inspired art decorating the walls. A giant chalkboard menu clearly shows all offerings while just a dozen wooden chairs around four tables (with another two-top outside) sit available. I was maybe the first customer after the usual 11 a.m. start, which turned out to be a good strategy.
Generally, when trying any new sandwich spot, I go with the veggie first, to evaluate the fixings at work. Following my morning of intimately meeting sandbars, though, a large meal was required, and nothing in the house stacks higher than a “Hot Subs” house special — #805 West Coast Reuben.
Listed as “Pastrami, Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Pickles & Our own Channel Island Dressing,” solely the baked-daily, toasted rye bread is the call. Exclusively serving Boar’s Head meats (and cheeses), the thinly sliced mounds of pastrami and corned beef popped with moist flavor without a drop of grease. Double, light layers of Swiss slightly melt above and, below, a handful of chunky dill pickles give delightful pause with crunch, while the careful injection of sauerkraut kicks everything into gear and meshes with the house dressing. At first glance, once the guy placed the basket on my table, I was sure it would be an eat-half-take-half situation; post-first-half inhale, though, I felt it a sin to let this sandwich sit, getting colder, any longer.
Stuffed for the moment but looking out for later, I ordered a #8 Cold Veggie (avocado, cucumber, provolone and havarti cheese) to go. Good thing I acted fast, too, as a herd of focused patrons quickly formed out the door as the lunch bell readied to ring.
But it just so happened that my wife was also working from home that day. Her eyes perked when I walked in with the plain white paper bag in hand. She wasted little time before sitting down to that exquisitely built ode to the vegetarian. Loaded with the aforementioned bases and balanced with mixed greens, tomato, red onion, brown mustard, mayo, olive oil and red wine vinegar at ratio-precision proportions, “no single ingredient overpowered another”; rather, the evenly stacked cold veggie, as I was told, is a divine take on a favorite staple.
A little disappointed I was unable to “test” a second VSC sando before penning this review, it was pertinent that I return a couple of days later, purely in the name of research, of course. I mean, consistency is paramount for a proper sandwich shop, and there is no meal I eat more consistently than a turkey sub.
This round, I left the office right before 4 p.m. with a plan to grab a #1 Turkey & Cheese and eat it along the boardwalk at Ventura Point. I needed to try the white roll this time, and I wanted to throw a couple of curveballs at the sandwich artist to see how he performed — “Everything on it; no tomato, please; add cucumbers; heavy on the mustard and oil/vinegar, easy on the mayo; oh, and please add pepperoncini.’”
High expectations were successfully met once sitting seaside, the fresh, pillow-like roll filled with everything I ordered, and nothing more. There’s just something about the mixed greens and crisp veggies/fruits VSC serves on its sandwiches, taking them above the norm. The sliced turkey was everything you’d expect from Boar’s Head, but I could sort of relate to the one Yelper who complained about not enough meat on his sandwich. Too much turkey here, though, may actually disturb this fine melding of flavors and textures, tipping the scale unfavorably toward meat mouth.
Ventura Sandwich Company is a master of the medium, well-versed in the basic trinity of making deli subs — quality meats, the freshest, highest-quality fixings and daily baked breads (like white and wheat rolls, rye, squaw and sourdough). I’m eager to try more of the hand-held creations. (And I do hope the owners push the Ventura surfing motif to the next level by adding a list of specialty sandwiches designed by some well-known, local pro surfers and legends.)